“Every farm needs a rusty old bathtub in the paddock,” said my husband as the rain drizzled down. “Besides, if you help me move it, you can have the compost bin lid back.”
That might seem like an odd kind of incentive, but given the circumstances, for me it was pretty compelling. We’d been using the compost bin lid as a tray for the cows’ molasses for a couple of months with disastrous results (see post here). Two cows covered in molasses wasn’t an experience I was keen on repeating any time soon, and, without an alternative feed trough, we’d been pushing our luck by continuing to use the plastic lid. Having the bathtub in the paddock would mean we’d have a sturdy feed trough for the molasses (instead of a dodgy plastic bin lid the cows could upend), and I could finally have my compost bin covered again. Two weeks of rain and an uncovered compost heap is a soggy combination.
Before I go on with the tub saga, a rain pic or two:
Anyway, now convinced that we needed to move the bath tub into the paddock, we went to inspect it a little closer. Old and rusted, it wasn’t going to win any beauty prizes. But the major issue wasn’t the look of the tub, it was the weight. If you’ve ever lifted a cast iron pot, you’ll know anything made of cast iron is much heavier than it looks. That tub was heavy! The two of us could barely budge it, let alone carry it the fifty or so metres (half of it uphill) from the old veggie garden to the paddock. We needed a plan.
We didn’t have any strong helpers on hand, or a forklift, but what we did have was a handful of old coppice logs. Using an old tool handle as a lever, we managed to raise one end of the tub and wedge one of the logs underneath. We then placed the other three logs in front at regular intervals so we could roll the tub over the top of the logs. As hubby pushed the tub along the log rollers, I’d run behind and grab a log then throw it out to the front then join in and push some more – sort of a manual conveyor built system. (I think I have hazy memories of high school ancient history lessons and learning that the ancient Egyptians used the same method when building the pyramids. If so, I have a newfound empathy for the ancient Egyptians!)
There were a few moments where my gumboots slid mid-push on the wet grass and I almost ended up face planted in the back of the tub, but overall it was a pretty effective method, if agonisingly slow. Eventually, after about an hour of this, uphill and down, we made it! One rusty bathtub in paddock.
I’m fast discovering that although we don’t have many skills, tools, knowledge or experience about living on a small farm, pig-headed determination tends to make up for most of our shortcomings and gets the job done – even if it is the hard way.